23 July 2013
After securing an impressive 153-run win over Sri Lanka in the first test in Galle, the Proteas have shifted their focus to the second and final test, which starts in Colombo on Thursday.
There is plenty at stake and plenty of motivation for Hashim Amla and company to win the series, beginning with the fact that they would again take over as the world’s number one ranked test team should they secure a 2-0 series victory.
Previous series in Sri Lanka
The Proteas will also be seeking only their second series win in Sri Lanka. They previously won a three-match series 1-0 in 1993.
In 2000, they shared a 1-1 draw in the three-test series, with the South African win coming by the narrow margin of one wicket.
In 2000, the Sri Lankans scored an emphatic 2-0 series victory in two tests. Most recently, in 2006, they won 2-0 again, edging the Proteas by one wicket in the second test in Colombo.
South Africa’s vice-captain AB de Villiers said the squad is hungry and committed to finishing the tour off with a win, and will not back off despite the fact that the series can’t be lost.
“It was great to have had a day off yesterday just to reflect and celebrate an amazing and special win,” he said after training on Tuesday. “In saying that, it’s not rocket science, there is a huge test coming up.
“We would love to win the series 2-0, winning both the ODIs and tests would be special for us as a team.
“It will be important for us to lay the foundation again on Thursday, like we did in the first test in Galle,” he said.
“I thought we started really well and it gave us the freedom to express our talent over the five days.”
The last three matches at the Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC) have been high-scoring draws, but De Villiers is hopeful the Proteas will make the most of the conditions on hand.
“The general feeling in Sri Lanka is to bat first,” he said. “In the past there has been a little bit of juice in the wicket in the first session. You have to make it work for you if you lose the toss and bowl first.
“From Sri Lanka’s point of view, they would like to get a result from this match and so do we. I think both teams will play positive cricket. That is what everyone wants.”
Unwanted part of history
De Villiers, Hashim Amla and Dale Steyn were an unwanted part of history when the Proteas’ were beaten by an innings and 153 runs in 2006 in a match which featured a world-record 624 run partnership between Kumar Sangakkara (285) and Mahela Jayawardene (309).
This time around, the Proteas find themselves in a more favourable position heading into the match, and have shown they are equipped to deal with the challenges of playing on the sub-continent.
‘A natural leader’
A series win would be the perfect start for new captain Hashim Amla. “He has always been a natural leader,” De Villiers said of Amla. “He had a great start, I think he is going to have an amazing career as captain.
“He has all the credentials, everything that you need to be a good leader. The whole team is right behind him.”